September 28, 2016
Oxytocin is a transactional hormone. Its job is to make split second evaluations about people we interface with. It does so through every sense available to us; our eyes, ears, touch, and smell . . . Will we ever be able to substitute oxytocin’s job with computer code? Will we ever have a program staring up at us from our laptop camera that will accurately scan and measure our emotions and intentions as it studies what we are typing, texting, tweeting? Can an artificial intelligence ever be developed that will be able to encourage us or better yet warn us when we are about to go off track and commit a grievous error? Will there ever be such a thing as artificial oxytocin intelligence code that will help us to keep our composure under pressure?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is both an art and a science. Until recently AI coders had to relentlessly rethink what they were doing in real life so they could translate it to their craft with crude trial and error programs. With sheer super computer power they would sift through reams of data with “Brute Force” programs. Suffice it to say that Brute force (BF) is not the answer to the subtleties of the human persona. It is crude and inaccurate.
Deep Mind is another story. The coders at Deep Mind (an AI group acquired by Google for 500 million dollars) have developed a system that is not “stupidly” pre-programmed but gets smart from its own experience. Basically, Deep Mind has been given a mind of its own. It has already developed a self-educating neural network that can play video games faster than a 14 year old boy on a jug of Coca-Cola, so teaching itself to understand the face of a thirty four year old man contemplating why his girlfriend seems so beautiful to him, should be a “Runaway reaction”. A “Runaway reaction” is what happens when your code gets so smart it runs away down a pseudo-cerebral road all on its own, with you or without you. Imagine a runaway horse or maybe a balloon that keeps going up, and up, and up . . . something—anything— that is out of control. What if the code is screaming to get away from her right now! But you don’t care, she is the most beautiful thing you have ever laid eyes on. Your oxytocin is racing, you are in love! But the code in your Google glasses is screaming “Get away!’ She is toxic!” I’ll address the existential issue(s) of this recalcitrance later.
Deep Mind program has already beaten Lee Se-dol, the top world player of Go, the ancient Chinese game. Lee was beaten down with algorithms four times in one afternoon. They played five games. Lee won one. This is a big deal because Go has infinitely more moves than chess. Chess is a logic based game. Go is an intuitive game. To beat it you need to think inductively. That requires “general purpose algorithms.” Apparently the guys at Deep Mind are making huge advances on “general purpose algorithms,” which apparently deliver immediate facts that are used to alter the moment and get smarter.
Let’s hit the fast forward button, say thirty years. Google glasses are so passé, everyone is wearing nanotechnology retinal glasses buried deep in their eyes, analyzing everyone in the room. Its code is intuitive, self-critical and tenaciously making miniscule improvements as it sifts the crowd for my future X wife.
My future X wife? Isn’t that a bit cynical? Yes, but here is an even more cynical thought; does a superintelligence capable of getting smarter and smarter present an existential threat to me in other ways? Mightn’t it not reduce me to its slave roaming the earth, doing its bidding, giving it all my money—all voluntarily of course, dragging me around with a cyber ring in my nose? I wouldn’t think of unplugging it. I live for it. We all do. Don’t we? I could be in the middle of dictating an untoward text to someone when the super smart phone I am about to hit send on (and is retrofitted with text analysis and emotional facial movement recognition) will analyze everything going down and warn me about the negative and positive possibilities of my actions.
Won’t such a program just enslave us when it figures out how we tick? Handle us? Can we be so easily handled? Maybe, but that’s way down the road. Still, pray that it doesn’t happen too soon because it will be the end of the human era as we know it. On the other hand, bring it on! It’s not as if things couldn’t get a little better on earth, good decisions based on good data.
In my heart of hearts I believe the current AI endgame is to create a product that can help us to evolve into better people. And, to do so in a way that makes our lives easier. Really? Will a nonstop flow of data make things easier? Presuming it will, how much easier? 50%? Of course there will be bad people that will find a way to use it in a very un-oxytocin like manner that does other people harm. Some say that it will be impossible to regulate AI. United States government regulations notwithstanding, there are about a million coders in India trying to figure out how to do just that.
And they will. They will distill intellect and emotion into an algorithmic construct that constantly up-grades itself at a furious rate right in front of all of us. We don’t quite see it yet. But, when we do we risk inventing a smarter self just so that it can figure ourselves out. Then, after a few crazy beta models (that have been locked up in cyber jail for all time) later, hope that the new improved program will not enslave us.
Aren’t we already slaves, to something? Elton Musk, Mr. Tesla himself thinks “We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.” I am personally very excited about self-teaching AI. I see it as an opportunity, not a threat. It is going to be a force multiplier capable of breathing gigabytes of genius into our lives through the gadgets we already carry around. Average people will be asking what it was like walking around so uneducated, unaware and unapprised, so uninformed, so un-omniscient, so stupid, as the average guy in the early 21st Century.
But, until such time as that perfect algorithm has been written and perfected that actually develops “Consciousness” you might just try getting in authentic touch with the people around you with Oxytocin Xxcelerator Nasal Spray No software required.